Something flimsy brushes at her face, grabbing for her hair, as she enters the office, and Melinda lets out an involuntary “Gah!”, reaching out to bat at it in her panic. When she opens her eyes, she is standing with loops of something in her hand. The office is silent, until she hears a sound that can only be described as a snirtle. She looks up and sees that Mary is watching her with crossed arms; List is standing behind her and smirking into his hand, trying to suppress a snigger. (Ah. That explains the odd snirtling, then.)
Mary glares at her, and she looks down at her hand again, finally comprehending what she’s holding…
“Apologise to my paper chain,” her secretary orders.
She can only give her secretary a blank look. “I beg your pardon…?”
“Apologise to my paper chain,” Mary repeats.
She watches her secretary for a long moment, her face one of sheer, pleading incredulity, then looks down at the sad, looped paper corpses in her palm. They lie flattened, as if afraid of her. They have every right to be.
Damn. She never had to put up with this sort of thing when she had a sword at her hip, blood all over her face and a magnificent glare. She misses the days when she actually demanded some respect.
She sighs. “I… apologise,” she reluctantly tells the paper chain, giving it a half-hearted pat, then turns and reaches for the wall to hang it with its fellows. Mary smiles and nods in approval, appearing at her side with pins and a horribly helpful attitude.
“No, there… no, there…”
Behind them, the snirtling recommences, and she makes a mental note to tell List that all she has said about him maturing and becoming somewhat professional was a lie. A filthy, stinking lie. He also has no right to laugh at her with that snowman tie, none at all.
When Melinda has at last regained the tattered remains of her sanity, she looks at them in resignation. “It’s that time of year again, is it?” she sighs.
They nod, giving her identical smiles, and she resolves to dig out that most excellent, three-hundred-year-old mulled wine recipe she has somewhere in her office.
If you can’t beat them, you’ll have to bloody well join them.